Eat Up

Our guide to some of our favorite places for Sweets and Premade Treats

Photo of a pastry from Emma’s Patisserie by Meagan Gumpert of MAVEN photo + film

THERE ARE PLENTY OF PLACES TO GET GREAT FOOD LOCALLY. HERE ARE A FEW SUGGESTIONS TO SOOTHE YOUR SWEET TOOTH AND HELP YOU PUT A MEAL ON THE TABLE WHEN YOU’RE TOO BUSY TO COOK.

CREATIVE CHEF

Award-winning chef Loring Felix, at The Fiery Chef, continues to impress with his individual and family size ready-to-eat meals, which are available in flex, classic, keto and paleo options. Daily and weekly offerings, through the shop at 2637 E. Silver Springs Boulevard, may include Swedish Meatballs, Roast Pork, Braised Cipollini Chicken, Cajun Shrimp or a Portobella Strip Steak, along with soups and salads. Occasionally, they offer a very sweet “empty-the-freezer” deal. thefierychef.com

Paella being prepped at Baked by Small Batch, courtesy of Baked by Small Batch

BIG APPLE BACKGROUND

New York’s loss is Ocala’s gain in Baked by Small Batch. Orlando and Stacey León offer “gourmet to go” fresh-frozen meals (French Onion Meatballs, Paella, Ratatouille, Honey Roasted Colorful Carrots, Baked Empanadas), desserts and treats (Dessert Crumble and Pound Cake Loaf), available to pick up at their shop at 815 N. Magnolia Avenue and at the Circle Square Commons Farmers Market each Thursday, as well as at Juniper General Store. smallbatchtogo.com

SWEET SUCCESS

You could say that Cardovia Jackson takes the cake. Just step inside her new Sweet & Savory Eats storefront at 1410 E. Silver Springs Boulevard and you will be greeted by large and colorful slices of Red Velvet, Pound, Carrot and Key Lime cakes; Sweet Potato Pie; Cheesecakes in Red Velvet, Strawberry and Chocolate flavors; Banana Pudding and Chocolate Chip Cookies. In mid-July, Jackson was gearing up to offer meals-to-go of meats, veggies and, of course, her yummy cornbread. Find them on Facebook or visit yelp.com/biz/sweet-and-savory-eats-ocala

SIT A SPELL

Walking into Melanie Patrick’s Soleil Bakery & Social House at 56 S.E. 1st Avenue is like coming home, with comfy sofas and easy chairs, and the aroma of fresh-baked goodies. You might find fancy French Macarons, Brownies and Blondies, Cinnamon Rolls and a variety of cakes, cheesecakes and cookies. The keto items are a big seller and include cookies, pies and dessert bars. There are also vegan and dairy free items and, on the savory side, Spinach & Mozzarella Rolls, Quiche and Focaccia. facebook.com/soleilocala

FRENCH AND FANCY

Yohann LeBescond, a native of France and the Executive Pastry Chef at Emma’s Patisserie, inside The Equestrian Hotel at the World Equestrian Center, brings a wealth of expertise to his kitchen. He was named to Restaurant Hospitality’s 2023 Power List and recently placed in the top three on the Food Network’s Summer Baking Championship. What you can expect to find here are artfully hand-crafted sweets that are stunning in presentation and outstanding in flavor and taste. worldequestriancenter.com/ocala-fl/visit/dining

AN OCALA CLASSIC

It is easy to get distracted by the arrays of gift items and miscellany at Your Hearts Desire at 1915 E. Silver Springs Boulevard. but keep moving to the back of the store and you will find Betty Cakes Bakery & Cafe, a “cake design studio.” Many locals consider a festive occasion complete when the host brings out a Betty Cake. The range of cake flavors is huge, with menus that include headings of “Special” and “Very Special.” And cookies! Stay for lunch and enjoy sandwiches, salads and more. bettycakes.com

GET ‘EM QUICK

Got an early morning staff meeting, mid-afternoon kid’s event or late-night deadline to meet? Donuts can make all of those better. Tas-t-o’s Donuts has been serving up tasty rounds of delicious goodness for years at 2205 E. Silver Springs Boulevard. Glazed, Cake, Chocolate, Crullers, Jelly-filled, Apple Fritters, Cinnamon Buns and more are all made fresh. One customer’s post on social media says they are the best donuts for “miles and miles … but you have to get up early or forget it.” Find them on Facebook, or, better yet, visit them in person.

Photo of pastries from Magnolia Bakery by Bruce Ackerman

MANGIA! 

Chances are, when you walk into the Magnolia Bakery at 1412 N. Magnolia Avenue, which opened in 1941, Linda Castello will greet you. She’ll let you know her husband, Salvadore, has been in the kitchen all night baking. The two former New Yorkers offer a wide variety of baked goods, Italian meals, subs and salads. If you’re hungry for Italian delicacies (Millifoglia, Napoleans, Sfoglaitella, Pastacroce, etc.), this is the place. fb.com/magnoliabakeryocala

FIND THE FOOD TRUCK

The Donut Express is a mini donut food truck brought you to by sisters Leslie Cole and Lottie Larsen, both native Ocalans. Cole says their top minis are Maple Bacon, Cheesecake (changes monthly) and Cookies & Cream. There are many other flavors as well. The mini donuts are offered in a six-pack or 16-pack. “We haven’t found the perfect location yet. So, for now, we travel around to different businesses or locations that invite us,” Cole notes. The schedule can be found at fb.com/TheDonutExpress

SOUTH AMERICAN SHOWCASE

The Frailejon Venezuelan Food and Bakery, at 1427 N.E. 25th Avenue, is owned by Marlenis Ramirez and her daughters Maria Paola Rojas and Maria Betania Rojas. They say Venezuelan food is rich in flavors, history and culture and they want to offer “a little bit of our roots to the community.” Stop in for the Pabellón  Arepa (shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains and white cheese), the Quesillo (“flan’s lost cousin”), Guava and Dulce de Leche Bread and Golfeados (a rich sticky bun with white cheese), and more. fb.com/frailejonvenezuelanfoodandbakery

HOMEMADE TO GO

Patti McQueen’s La Casella Catering has long been a local “go-to” for celebrations large and small. Now, McQueen is opening a storefront on the property of Ocala First United Methodist Church. “My ‘shop’ will be at 1124 E. Fort King Street. It has been a wonderful partnership,” she shares. She will offer prepared meals, homemade soups, dips, salad dressings and more. “We also make homemade Lemon Squares, Pecan Tassies and pies,” she adds. lacasellacatering.com

CULINARY CREATIONS

Pastry Chef Danielle Luisi, of Sweet Peas Bakery and Café, received degrees in Baking and Pastry Arts Management from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and further training in California and Italy. You can find her “from scratch” breads, scones, coffee cakes and her highly popular Morning and Cinnamon Buns at the Downtown Ocala Market on Saturdays, with some gluten-free offerings. sweetpeasbakeryandcafe.com

TANDEM TEAM

Let’s Eat Fresh 809 N. Magnolia Ave. may be best known as a commissary kitchen, but the mother and daughter chef team of Maria and Rosaria DelPrete also offer prepared meals to go, including lots of Italian entrees, Spanakopita, Arancini (Rice Balls), soups, salads and baked goods, such as Tiramisu and Garlic Cookies. letseatfresh.net

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